Evaluating Academic Research Networks

  • Damien Contandriopoulos University of Montreal, Faculty of Nursing; University of Montreal Public Health Research Institute (IRSPUM)
  • Catherine Larouche University of Montreal Public Health Research Institute (IRSPUM)
  • Arnaud Duhoux University of Montreal, Faculty of Nursing; Charles-LeMoyne Hospital Research Centre
Keywords: academic performance, research collaboration, research funding policies, scientific productivity, social network analysis, university research centres

Abstract

Abstract: Funding agencies and universities are increasingly searching for effec-tive ways to support and strengthen a dynamic and competitive scientific research capacity. Many of their funding policies are based on the hypothesis that increased collaboration and networking between researchers and between institutions lead to improved scientific productivity. Although many studies have found positive correlations between academic collaborations and research performance, it is less clear how formal institutional networks contribute to this effect. Using social net-work analysis (SNA) methods, we highlight the distinction between what we define as “formal” institutional research networks and “organic” researcher networks. We also analyze the association between researchers’ actual structural position in such networks and their scientific performance. The data used come from cur-riculum vitae information of 125 researchers in two provincially funded research networks in Quebec, Canada. Our findings confirm a positive correlation between collaborations and research productivity. We also demonstrate that collaborations within the formal networks in our study constitute a relatively small component of the underlying organic network of collaborations. These findings contribute to the literature on evaluating policies and programs that pertain to institutional research networks and should stimulate research on the capacity of such networks to foster research productivity.

Résumé : Les universités et les agences de financement cherchent de plus en plus à renforcer de façon efficace une capacité de recherche scientifique dynamique et concurrentielle.  Bon nombre de leurs politiques de financement sont fondées sur l’hypothèse qu’une amélioration de la collaboration et du réseautage entre les chercheurs et entre les établissements mène à une productivité scientifique accrue. De nombreuses études ont noté une corrélation positive entre les collaborations de recherche et le rendement en recherche, mais la contribution des réseaux institution-nels officiels à ce résultat reste nébuleuse. À l’aide de méthodes d’analyse des réseaux sociaux, nous mettons l’accent sur la distinction entre ce que nous définissons comme les réseaux institutionnels de recherche « officiels » et les réseaux « organiques » de chercheurs. Nous analysons aussi l’association entre les positions structurelles réelles

Author Biographies

Damien Contandriopoulos, University of Montreal, Faculty of Nursing; University of Montreal Public Health Research Institute (IRSPUM)
Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Montreal.
Arnaud Duhoux, University of Montreal, Faculty of Nursing; Charles-LeMoyne Hospital Research Centre
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Montreal
Published
2018-06-27